Just stick your hand out

No, not to beg for something, although I’m sure the folks in Japan could definitely use your help and would never ask for it. Consider donating to one of many worth causes like the Red Cross or Save the Children. (there are many others)

But I digress. What I really mean is, when you’re in a social situation, you’re sort of milling around and looking to talk to someone, stick your hand out and say “Hi, I’m XYZ” to the person seemingly doing the same. You’d be surprised at what happens. People don’t bite. People aren’t going to say “ugh, you’re weird” unless you’re in middle school or wearing a pocket protector. They’re actually going to embrace it, introduce themselves back and be very happy that you made a move. I guarantee it.

I know to many it’s super awkward. We’ve all been there. You somehow are happier to make weird eye contact for a split second, turn away and head for the snack table instead. I think it’s a fear of failure or embarrassment that you’re going to make a fool of yourself. In reality it’s amazingly disarming and guess what, you might feel awkward in these situations and be hesitant to make that move, but I guarantee you that everyone is at least as squeamish and hesitant as you are.

What ends up happening is that you put others at ease. You come off as being a friendly person. It’ll exude tons of confidence. People will like you. They’ll want to talk to you. They’ll look up to you because you’ve reached out to them and made them feel welcome. It gives you the upper hand – no pun intended.

That said, here are a couple pointers:

  1. This applies to random social situations as well when you have mutual friends who (rudely so) aren’t introducing their previously-not-met friends to each other.
  2. Conversely, I’m not sure this will work for getting an intro to the hot chick/dude across the bar.
  3. An easy follow-on question is “so how do you know <common friend>?” or “so what do you do?” in a more network-type environment. FYI, these questions will make you look like a dumbass if the hot chick is a total stranger you’re trying to hit on.
  4. And that’s why it’s not a pickup tool, but a networking tool. Try this on individual people just sort of standing around at cocktail hour first.
  5. Don’t go for the kill and try to get in on a big circle of people with this on first try. That’s the 102 class.
  6. If you do need to enter a circle, two rules: a) current conversation can’t be crazy deep/personal and b) you’re approaching people roughly of your “level”, i.e. it’ll be a lot harder to walk in on Steve Jobs talking to Bill Gates.
  7. If you’re currently in such a conversation circle, be inclusive of others who might be on their own. Introduce the people in the circle to the newcomer. An added benefit here is if both people aren’t that interesting or you just want to get a drink, you won’t leave anyone hanging.
  8. Always a firm handshake. Limp hands suck.

Now go be confident and meet some people!

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